With Jukebox Musical “All Shook Up”
TR Robertson — It’s Rocking & Rolling in the Gas Lamp area of San Diego as the San Diego Musical Theatre brings to the Horton Grand Theatre Stage a high energy, wonderfully staged and emotionally performed musical, from a book by Joe Dipieto, featuring the songs of Elvis Presley. The story is loosely based on Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”, using the songs of Presley to tell the tale of people, in a small conservative town in the Midwest in 1955, who suddenly have their lives turned upside down when a black leather jacket wearing, motorcycle riding stranger arrives and shake-rattle & rolls their world.
Resembling Shakespeare’s premises in “Twelfth Night”, the Dipieto story has a mysterious stranger, relationships going nowhere, people seeking love and relationships, people willing to take a chance and challenge societies rules and stereotypes of the time and disguised identities involving gender deceit. Dipieto also adds inter-racial relationships and a town Mayor who resembles the attitudes of the city of Bomont from “Footloose” and the real town of Elmore City, Oklahoma, that banned dancing for over 80 years.
Joe Dipieto is a playwright, lyricist and author who wrote the Tony Award winning 2010 musical “Memphis” and the 1996 “I Love You, You’re Right, Now Change”, which ran Off Broadway for 12 years and over 5,000 performances. “All Shook Up” opened on Broadway at the Palace Theatre in 2005 and ran for 233 performances.
Award winning actor Robert J. Townsend makes his debut as the director of “All Shook Up” and along with brilliant choreography from Michael Mizerany and beautifully performed and directed music from Music Director Don Le Master, Conductor Andrew Orbison and the 12 piece “All Shook Up” Orchestra, they have brought together a veteran Artistic & Production Team and 20 talented performers, many making their SDMT debut.
From the moment the musical begins, with a stylish production of “Jailhouse Rock”, we are treated to an array of musical interpretations of 25 of Presley’s songs. Playing the lead, Chad, is Jesse Bradley, a San Diego native making his SDMT debut. He brings the Presley songs to life with energy and a great hip swiveling, gyrating enthusiasm as he tries to help the “broken down juke box and the broken down people”. Playing the love struck garage mechanic Natalie is Krista Feallock, also a San Diego native making her SDMT stage debut. Krista has great vocal range and shines on songs like “One Night”, “Love Me Tender” and “Fools Fall in Love”. She has the distinction of getting to pretend to be a male pal of Chad, Ed, as she attempts to find out what it will take to win Chad’s love, all the while wearing a leather jacket and a rather ridiculous fury hat to hide her pony tail.
Noah Filley, also new to SDMT, plays the love struck Dennis who just can’t seem to win over Natalie. He has a number of humorous scenes, but gets to show off a great singing voice in “It Hurts Me”. Richard Van Slyke plays Natalie’s forlorn father, Jim Haller, searching for love in all the wrong places. Richard is a veteran actor making a return to SDMT. He has some great dance moves, especially when he tries to become a “cool guy”. Erin Vanderhyde plays Sylvia, the diner owner. Erin is performing in her second show with SDMT and brings a powerful voice to the stage, shown in many of the songs, especially “There’s Always Me”, “That’s All Right” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. Playing Sylvia’s daughter Lorraine is Brooke Henderson, having performed in many regional theatre productions. Brooke has an equally strong voice shown in songs like “If I Can Dream”, “That’s All Right” and “It’s Now or Never”. Lorraine’s boyfriend, Dean Hyde, is played by Brendan Dallaire, also in his second SDMT show. Brendan is a junior at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts.
The sexy museum director, Miss Sandra, is played by Sami Nye, making her SDMT debut. She has some very funny scenes with Dennis, Chad, Natalie and Jim, especially when the four of them sing a combination of “Teddy Bear” and “Hound Dog”. She has a great line as her frustration, with what is going on around her, builds as she walks off stage and to a loud applause from the audience says, “This town makes me miss Escondido”. The pushy, domineering, demanding Mayor Hyde is played perfectly by veteran actress Barbara Schoenhofer, returning to SDMT since last performing here in 2014. She is on a mission to support the Mamie Eisenhower Decency Act and will stop at nothing to keep the kids in line. Helping the Mayor out is Sheriff Earl, a man of few words until he erupts with “Can’t Help Falling in Love” in Act II. He is played by Anthony Ballard, also new to SDMT.
The amazing Ensemble of dancers and singers included Madeline Edwards, Isaiah Engram, Donny Gersonde, Isaac Jackson, Henry Austin, Holly Echsner, Alyssa Junious, Olivia Lucci, Liliana Rodriguez, and Clay Stefanki. The rest of the Creative Team included Scenic Director Mike Buckley, Lighting Designer Michelle Miles, Sound Designer Jon Fredette, Costume Designer Janet Pitcher, Wig & Hair Designer Peter Herman, Property Masters Heather Longfellow & Kendell Northrup, Production Manager Ron Christopher Jones, Technical Director Stephen Longfellow and Stage Manager Paul Morgavo.
This is an upbeat, finger snapping, hand clapping musical that will have you dancing in your seats. “All Shook Up” will be on the SDMT stage at the Horton Grand Theatre until September 1st. Tickets can be purchased at www.sdmt.org or call 858-560-5740. Next up for SDMT, beginning on September 27th, will be “Man of La Mancha – the Tale of Don Quixote”.